Read Because of Ellison Online

Authors: M.S. Willis

Because of Ellison (5 page)

His eyes opened, shot to my chest momentarily, before
immediately, and forcibly, shooting to my eyes. “Fine. What do you want?”

After securing the towel around my body, I smiled, took a
few steps in his direction, before reaching out and taking the paint cans from
his grip and placing them at his feet.

“I want you to strip.”

Chapter Four


She couldn’t be serious. However, the expression on her face
told me that under no uncertain terms, she was, in fact, serious.

“I’m not taking off my clothes. That’s ridiculous!”

The expression on her face didn’t change; except for the
minute curl at the corner of her lips. “Strip. Then we will both have the
advantage of knowing what the other looks like without clothes. It’ll give us
an even playing field.”

I stood dumbfounded, not believing that she was telling me
to take off my clothes. Since the moment I’d met her, she’d acted like a raging
bull, tackling me over dogs and throwing out insults as fast as her tongue
could form the sound. A spitting cat would have been more malleable than the
headstrong blonde staring me down.

Her eyebrow was cocked teasingly over her eye and her mouth
puckered up as she attempted to keep from laughing. Annoyance mixed thickly
with my shock and I stood silent waiting for her to finally laugh and tell me
she was joking.

She didn’t.

Although the situation was odd, I couldn’t help but inquire
as to just how naked she wanted me. “You want me to take everything off?”

“No, just the pants and shirt. There’s nobody here that’s interested
in seeing anything beyond that.”

My ego took a small hit on that comment, but I pressed
forward anyway. “So, let me get this straight. You decided to take a shower in
your front yard after basically assaulting me yesterday over the fact that your
dogs ruined my wall, and now you think that the only way we’re going to be even
is if I remove my clothes? I’m not exactly seeing how me being naked is going
to solve anything.”

Stepping back, she shook her head and finally let out the
chuckle I knew she’d been holding in since the moment she told me to undress.
“It’s actually quite simple, Hunter. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that you’ve
seen me practically naked and the only way I’m going to feel better about
having been seen in that condition is to know that you feel equally as
embarrassed to be seen that way as well. The dog incident has nothing to do
with this, so that’s just a dead issue.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and her little foot
popped out in front of her as she waited. Her words finally seeped their way
through my shock and I noticed what she’d said.

“You think I’d be embarrassed to get naked in front of you?”
I laughed. “Back home, I had hundreds of girls swooning over me daily. I work
hard for the body I have.”

Okay, not hard, because,
thankfully, nature was kind and giving with my genetics.

“Well, yeah I think that.” She walked towards me and
motioned towards my shirt. “If you weren’t embarrassed you’d have already taken
off your clothes.”

“I haven’t taken off my clothes, because I think it’s

After tucking her towel into itself to ensure it wouldn’t
fall off, she stepped towards me and reached out to grip the bottom of my
shirt. “Listen, I just want to get this asinine conversation over with, so take
off the damn shirt and your pants and we’ll call it even.”

Her hands quickly pulled the sweat sodden material up my
body and I stepped back in shock at her brazen behavior. Unfortunately, my foot
caught on the paint can and I tumbled backwards, pulling Ellison down on top of
me. Once again we found ourselves in a tangled mess of arms and legs and her
wet hair fell down into my face, practically blinding me — which was
unfortunate given the fact that the towel fell open and her barely covered
chest and abdomen were front and center. I brushed the hair out of my face in
time to see her wide-open blue eyes staring down at me just before she pushed
herself up and fixed her towel.

Laughing, I said, “We’ve got to stop ending up like this.”

She turned her face back toward mine and time stopped. I’m
not kidding. I know it’s the cheesiest way to describe what happened at that
moment, but for a split second there, I was completely captivated by the beauty
of the girl straddling my midsection. The sunlight peeked through the wet
tangles of her golden hair and the glint in her eye sparkled … just before she

“You know it’s really creepy when you stare like that.”

Standing up, she gripped the towel around herself tighter
and walked towards her house. “Whatever, Hunter, I don’t have all day to deal
with you.” She stopped and looked over her shoulder at me, just in time to
catch me staring at her ass. A knowing expression fell over her face. “The way
I figure it, you’re too damn embarrassed to show some skin, so I’ll leave you
alone to deal with your insecurity issue. However, do me a favor and stop
staring at me like some stalker. Let’s just get through the summer and try to
avoid each other from here on out.”

My jaw dropped as she spun back towards her house and made
her way inside. I could hear the two little fur balls barking as she entered
and the distinct sound of the door slamming behind her. I stood motionless for
a moment attempting to come to terms with meeting the strangest person I think
I’d ever met in my life. I’m not sure how long I continued staring at her
house, but at one point, the window curtain was pulled aside and her face came
into view. She opened the window just enough so she could say, “See what I mean
about you being creepy? Stop standing around staring at people and we might get
along better.” She closed the window and dramatically pulled the curtain back
into place.

girl was a nightmare.

I spent the rest of the afternoon painting primer on the
exterior of the house. There may have been some choice expletives voiced the
entire time I was
one side
because that area of primer had been destroyed by Ellison’s dogs. I was in
shock that she didn’t feel like she owed me anything for all those extra hours
her mutts had cost me in doing this monotonous chore. I wanted to hate her.
She’d done nothing but yell at me and call me “creepy” since the minute we’d
met. But, unfortunately, every time I got close to convincing myself to forget
her, my mind would reflect on that one day: those piercing blue eyes and the
view of her supple, barely dressed body under that showerhead ... those images
flicker in my mind’s eye and I’ve caught myself smiling a time or two.

I was coming around the corner after scraping the rest of
the ruined primer off the wall and there she was: the sun glinted off the water
that trailed down her tan skin. Her head was leaning back and her chest and
stomach were the first things I saw. I didn’t lie to her when I told her I’d
been in shock. By the time my eyes had traveled down the full length of her
legs and back up again, she was staring back at me like she wanted to murder
me. I noticed that I’d started to run out of room in my pants from the view and
I was nervous she would look down and see it too, so I turned around quick.
Thankfully, she didn’t and I was spared that train wreck of embarrassment. The
time it took her to yell at me, and the disbelief I was feeling by what she was
saying, helped my body calm down (quickly).

Squirt, Squirt,

It was a mantra I repeated in my mind to cure the absolute
boredom I had with the job I was doing. It was also a failed attempt at keeping
thoughts of Ellison out of my head. Her body was insane and no matter what I
did, or what I thought about, I couldn’t keep the image of her smooth tanned
skin from flashing itself in my mind. I wouldn’t have minded considering her
for a little summer fling if I could just find a way to keep her from talking
and screwing up the mood.

Not able to stand the silence any longer, I stood up from my
crouched position at the back of the house and went up onto the porch in search
of a radio. Buried beneath all the greasy car parts and other odds and ends, I
located a small radio and flicked it on before scrolling through countless
country stations in search for some decent music. Eventually I found a station
that was playing some industrial music and I carried the radio out with me to
finish my job.

Having settled back into the routine, I picked up my speed
and was finishing up the last part when I heard Ellison’s front door open and
the unmistakable sound of the little terrors being let outside. They instantly
barked in appreciation and tore across the lot in my direction. I flinched
immediately and stood up to protect the house at all costs.

“Sasha! Bear! You stop right there, you two!” Ellison’s
voice carried over the yard loudly and both dogs stopped instantly, kicking up
little dust clouds with their feet. I looked up from the dogs to Ellison and
she stared over at me with a crooked smile on her face. She patted her leg to
call the dogs back to her. The dogs hesitated and looked at me, but eventually
moved to stand at her feet.

“You got bacon in your pocket? They seem to like you —
although I’m not sure why.”

I smiled in response to her stab and responded, “I believe
it’s my shining disposition.”

She laughed. “Somehow, I doubt that. Could you do me a favor
and turn off the death metal? I can’t even hear myself think.”

I took her request as an affront. One of my favorite bands
was playing at that moment and the way her expression soured when she heard it
was insulting. I prided myself on my taste of music and her disapproval
irritated me — although I couldn’t immediately understand why.

Reaching over I flicked off the radio. “What’s the matter?
There’s not enough twang to make it interesting to you country folk?” Okay
— there was a little too much sarcasm in my tone on that comment, but
Ellison seemed to bring it out in me.

“You must have an issue with silence. You know —
that’s a problem for a lot of people nowadays. They’ve always got to have
something blasting in their ear or something to stare at. It’s probably why so
many of you are as miserable as you are. You don’t know how to just enjoy the
world around you.”

I blinked up at her and it took me a second to absorb what
she was saying. It must have taken me too long to respond because she spun on
her heel and tapped against her leg to tell the dogs to follow. My eyes
followed her as she walked towards a red, beat-up Jeep that I’d thought was
broken down considering the terrible condition it was in. She turned to look at
me again before climbing up into the driver’s seat. The dogs happily climbed up
into the Jeep with her and she placed them in the back. Looking over at me, she

“I’ve never known anybody who stares as much as you. Is
there something on your mind that you need to say, or can you just not help
yourself from looking at me?”

I blinked again and shook myself from my shocked silence.
“No! You just keep saying weird shit and I’m not completely sure what to think
about you.”

“Then don’t think about me. Just get back to your chore
because it looks like it might take you a bit longer than you thought to finish

I turned to look back at the house to see what she was
talking about. It looked perfect and all that I needed to do was let the primer
dry before I painted it. Turning back to her, I asked, “Why do you say that?”

She smirked. “No reason.”

After she turned away from me, the engine roared to life and
smoke shot out of the muffler at the rear of the Jeep. She revved the engine a
few times and pulled out quick enough to cause a cloud of dust and dirt to blow
out from behind her. She looked at me in the rear view mirror as she drove off
and raised her hand to wave out of the top before she turned and drove out of
view. The cloud caused me to cough, but I still laughed and turned back to look
at the house. Instantly I noticed that the dirt her Jeep had kicked up was now
embedded in the tacky paint.


She had to have known her Jeep would do that. Flicking my
radio back on and turning it up louder, I marched over to fix the area her car
had messed up and decided that when it came to Ellison James, the gloves were
now off.


Well, she was correct. It did take me a few more hours to
fix the area she’d messed up in her hasty departure and after scraping and
re-priming again, I stood back to admire my work. I was packing up my tools
when I heard a small bicycle bell chime behind me. Turning around I found Lily
riding an old-fashioned blue bike that was equipped with a small brown basket
in the front and streamers flying out the sides of the handles. I didn’t even
realize they made those for bikes large enough to be ridden by a person over
the age of five.

“Hey, Cuz!” She stopped within feet of me and climbed off
before kicking down the stand. “How’s the painting going? Looks like you just

One thing that amazed me about Lily was her ability to speak
at least three times faster than any other human being I knew, but yet clearly
pronounce each word with only the smallest amount of southern accent. Her blond
hair bounced around her head as she approached me and I was instantly swept up
into a large hug. Stepping back, she tucked her bangs behind her ears and
smiled. “You did a good job; although, you could have been finished hours ago
if you weren’t such an obvious perfectionist. You do realize this is just
primer, right?”

“It’s the foundation for ….” I stopped before diving into my
solid foundation speech and moved to continue gathering up the tools. “Never
mind, but thanks. I would have been done a few hours ago if I didn’t have to
fix the front wall — AGAIN — after my run-in this afternoon with
your friend.”

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